How to answer interview questions regarding confidentiality

Confidentiality on the job is vital to being professional and trustworthy. An employer wants to know that you can keep trade secrets and that you will respect the privacy of clients and customers.

In an interview, focus on emphasising your ability to be discreet and follow company and industry confidentiality standards.

Answer with the types of information to which you had access in previous positions and how you kept information confidential. Interviewers may start out by asking more general questions about the kinds of confidential information with which you have dealt, and answering in this manner tells him that information, but also provides some specific details on your knowledge of confidentiality.

An interviewer may want to know what level of clearance you held in previous positions. This can give him an idea of how well your employers trusted you. Discuss how information was stored and destroyed -- without breaking any confidentiality agreements with past employers. Give prospective employers information about the types of filing and storage systems with which you are familiar.

Convey that you understood the need for confidentiality in situations in which you had to share confidential information and that you were able to disclose the confidential information sensitively and carefully. Interviewers may then extend their line of questioning to discussing exactly how you took measures to keep information confidential from unauthorised persons when it had to be shared with others with proper access. Employers may want to know how you dealt with any risks involved. For example, you may have had to take a file out of its secure cabinet to share its contents with someone who needed to know the information. Tell the employer about the precautions and safeguards you took to ensure the file got back into its secure location.

State that you understood the importance of communicating with co-workers to give them the information they need, but that you did not feel guilty that you could not provide confidential information to them when they asked for it. Employers may then move on to asking questions about your ability to keep confidential information to yourself, despite the temptation to share it with others. Your answer should display comfort in keeping information confidential from colleagues. Your confidence in yourself in refraining from caving to pressure from co-workers will be well-received by the interviewer.

State that you were careful when working with customers or clients in situations requiring discretion and tact, always considering the long-term relationship with them. Employers may finally want to know how you managed to keep customers and clients happy when you dealt with their confidential information. State that you were as careful as possible about guarding their confidential information that was to be kept private and that you understood the importance of maintaining a positive working relationship with them. Provide examples of the measures you took to ensure confidentiality.